Emma's Postcard Album: Black Lives in the Early Twentieth Century (Hardcover)
BCALA 2023 Outstanding Contribution to Publishing Citation Award winner The turn of the twentieth century was an extraordinarily difficult period for African Americans, a time of unchecked lynchings, mob attacks, and rampant Jim Crow segregation. During these bleak years, Emma Crawford, a young African American woman living in Pennsylvania, corresponded by postcard with friends and family members and collected the cards she received from all over the country. Her album--spanning from 1906 to 1910 and analyzed in Emma's Postcard Album--becomes an entry point into a deeply textured understanding of the nuances and complexities of African American lives and the survival strategies that enabled people "to make a way from no way." As snippets of lived experience, eye-catching visual images, and reflections of historical moments, the cards in the collection become sources for understanding not only African American life, but also broader American history and culture. In Emma's Postcard Album, Faith Mitchell innovatively places the contents of this postcard collection into specific historic and biographical contexts and provides a new interpretation of postcards as life writings, a much-neglected aspect of scholarship. Through these techniques, a riveting world that is far too little known is revealed, and new insights are gained into the perspectives and experience of African Americans. Capping off these contributions, the text is a visual feast, illustrated with arresting images from the Golden Age of postcards as well as newspaper clippings and other archival material.
Faith Mitchell is a medical anthropologist whose career has bridged research, philanthropy, and social and health policy. In addition to numerous policy-related publications, she is author of Hoodoo Medicine: Gullah Herbal Remedies and The Book of Secrets, Part 1. Mitchell is an Institute Fellow at the Urban Institute. She and her husband live in Northern Virginia.